Holly McGowan and Sofya Staune created VAJ.Power in Holly’s bedroom in Glasgow as a way to share each other’s knowledge of digital technology. Initially supplying visuals for events from Glasgow to Moscow, the duo now put on their own events, >Fuse, revolutionising the traditional club night into a multi-sensory, accessible event. Their creative process revolves around a process of learning, “we became very interested in why working in 3D animation, modelling and coding are so inaccessible and how to make it more open to all”, VAJ.Power tells It’s Nice That. As a result, >Fuse also hosts workshops in digital technology, investigating the relationship between music and moving image.
Amorphous characters are a recurring feature in VAJ.Power’s animations. “The main themes in the work is the idea of body, both of us having quite difficult relationships with our bodies in terms of gender dysphoria and trauma, so this often appears in our work”, explains VAJ.Power. “After being at art school, we both felt our emotional wellbeing was often overlooked in the academic environment that mainly focused on intellectualising works. We honestly felt so tired of that and wanted to work on something that would be freeing for us, opposing academic rules”.
The duo work with C4D, Maya, VDMX, and Brekel, often patch coding in tandem to create rich animations that pay close attention to textures, light, the natural and unnatural. With their background in the visual arts, “VJing is almost like DJing but with visuals”, a natural way of working for Sofya who has synaesthesia. This is a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory, or cognitive pathway, “so music conjures up so many colours and images instinctively”.
Currently, VAJ.Power are focusing on the development of >Fuse. Consisting of 3D animation and AV workshops, and the participating students can showcase their work operating the live visuals in a non-judgemental environment during the club nights. “We’d like to make >Fuse into a multi-dimensional experience, so the visual aspect is just as important for us as the music. In terms of music genres, >Fuse is bass-driven covering genres like grime, deep dubstep and club, to name a few”, explains VAJ.Power. Additionally, “as promoters ourselves, we believe that the safe® spaces and conscious clubbing venues are the future of nightlife… We are trying to implement this into the events we run, but we are also in a constant process of learning and educating ourselves on the issues within society and the nightclub scene”. VAJ.Power believe the nightlife industry has a long way to go in terms of accessibility; “it’s super important to recognise that any space is political and is tied to certain social constructs”. >Fuse operates a safe® space policy and provides gender-neutral toilets, however, VAJ.Power asserts that “this should not be a temporary feature, but rebuilt within the venue as a way of restructuring our ideas of gender. Safe spaces should be a venue policy rather than a one-off thing”.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.